Finally Watched… Dope (2015)

Malcolm, Jib and Diggy used to be in the school marching band, but quit in protest after refusing to play the Harlem Shake.

You don’t get a lot of mainstream coming of age movies anymore. Nobody sits in detention and gets to know people they never would have otherwise, or plays hooky and has the time of their lives.

Dope is the coming of age story of three teenagers who are an anomaly in their surroundings. Drugs, guns and violence they keep their heads down to avoid getting sucked into this world. But when you live in the eye of the storm, it’s only a matter of time before something hits you in the face and knocks you straight into the chaos.

If there is one thing I want to say first, it’s that the soundtrack for this film was dope. (Pun intended) Particularly the songs performed by the band  Awreeoh (pronounced Oreo) which is a group comprised of the three main characters. I guess it’s unsurprising when you read the small print and see all the songs were written by Pharrell Williams. His involvement (his production company co-produced the film) also accounts for the number of big names in the film. Rapper and model cameos that got their two seconds of screen time, thankfully without taking anything away from the main story line and central characters.

What was great about the film was it’s location: California. When you think of Cali you think of clear blue skies and driving down palm tree lined streets (Well that’s what I think of at least) – your mind doesn’t jump straight to drugs and gangsters. But that stuff happens no matter the weather and I liked that they didn’t tint the lighting in post to give everything that grey, overcast and staged feel.

One of my favourite things was that Malcolm, Jib and Diggy were always on their bikes. It made things feel a lot more fluid and gave a better perception of their lives than if they just drove and walked everywhere. They escaped on their bikes, cruised leisurely with their bikes and stood watching the world with their bikes. It sounds super corny but it was like a breath of fresh air watching them weave in and out of each other on the open road. (Kind of like that We were Infinite scene from the Perks of Being A Wallflower).

The film was a pleasant surprise in its characters, how it was filmed and the stories escalation but I won’t lie, the deeper meaning behind the film got lost on me until it was shoved down. Once very subtly and powerfully, the other as an obvious summarising point. It just made me think that the writer got so caught up in making sure the plot flowed that they forgot about the theme and had to pull it together in the last second. Not necessarily a bad thing – but it took away from the reality of the film.

Finally I have to nod to Kiersey Clemons who plays Diggy. All three characters played their roles well and the other two actors have notable productions under their belts (The Get Down, Spider-Man: Homecoming). However having seen her crop up from Disney Channel to MTV Scripted over the years, Clemons in on my long list of actors I’m rooting for to do well. She is set to play Iris West in the upcoming Justice League and Flash Movies.




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